Last week I was invited to an event called TOAST N’ TASTE, presented by Urban Daddy. The event was by invitation only, so first off, thanks to Dana for the invite. Not only did I feel awesomely elitist for being invited, but the event was free and featured the launch of the Komodo Truck. This newest truck in LA has confirmed the trend that many food trucks have been leaning towards. Basically they make some good food and stick it in tacos (and burritos in Komodo’s case, although on this night they were only making tacos). I suppose the idea is to keep withe the concept of street food and to make it easy to eat. Fine by me, as long as it tastes good.
Before I get into the Komodo, I should mention that this event was not simply a food truck launch. Rather than going to The Brig, this took place at Studio 11, an awesome studio loft near Mid-City. In addition to the food, there was a group called the Doheny Mixologists. These guys were mixing up some fancy cocktails for thirsty participants, and right next to them was a mini wine tasting. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, there was a cigar-rolling stand, where some Nicaraguan blend tobacco leaves were being transformed into cigars in front of my eyes. And if you wanted to grab one and smoke it right there, you could climb out onto the roof and warm yourself in the cool Los Angeles evening.
But back to the truck. This is a meaty food blog after all, so while mixologists and cigars may be cool, they will not matter when it comes to meaty foodery. Outside of the loft, I stepped into the relatively short line to get myself some food. We grabbed some of their menus, which were nice since we didn’t have to check the side of the truck for what they offered, but they were deemed nearly useless when none of the food items described what was actually in them. Instead, all the menu had was the names. Sure, some of the names, like Burgerrito and Fish n’ Grapes were mildly descriptive, but others like Komodo Signature and Early Bird were nothing short of ambiguous.
Since the line wasn’t going anywhere (even though we were about 8 people back from the front), I decided to look up the menu items on their website on my phone to see if I could learn more. This helped, but only a little. For example, the Early Bird is described as “A hearty meal cooked to perfection and ready to be devoured by breakfast lovers any time of the day.” Wow, seriously? Thanks for getting specific. I figured this was probably part of the reason the line was going so slowly, because even though we had these menus, people still had to ask what was in every single taco. This could take a while when there are about ten items and every single person had to ask what is in each.
Complaints on the waiting time aside, I finally made it up to the front of the line and got my turn to ask what was in each taco. After asking (and learning that there was a 3-item max) I decided what to order. First, I got the Komodo Signature, which was simply steak, cheese and guacamole (pictured above). This was nice, since I didn’t have to make any unvegan changes. I also ordered the Seoul Food Special, their obvious attempt to cash in on the Korean Taco craze. I was told this came with pickles, so I ordered it without. And for my third item, I got the Fish n’ Grapes. This intrigued me, and I ordered it without the lettuce it was said to come with.
Despite the long wait to order, getting my food didn’t take too long. I was pretty disappointed to see my Seoul Food Special was covered with lettuce, since I hadn’t been told about this. Lucky for Komodo, this lettuce was relatively easy to pick off. Underneath, I found delicious strips of Korean beef. Had this not been topped with lettuce, I would have been enamored. Next, I tested out the Komodo Signature. This had a healthy portion of guacamole on it, which tasted delicious. I didn’t think I would ever say this, but there was almost too much guacamole on this, almost hiding the taste of the meat. Nonetheless, this was a great unvegan dish.
Finally, I tested out their Fish n’ Grapes. It was such a strange combination that I knew it had to be good. I was right. Who knew that combining grapes with fish could taste so good? Apparently someone in that Komodo Truck did. The fish was fried and crispy, which somehow worked well with the sweetness of the grapes. Although I was quite happy with what I had eaten so far, I had seen some people order some items that I definitely wanted to get my hands on. Once the line shortened up again, I defied the 3-item limit and went back in line for more. Another wait ensued, but then I was up at the front again to order some of their Meatballs with Romesco Sauce (not a taco!) and Asian Marinated Chicken.
My meatballs came out first and looked beautiful. Covered with that sauce, I couldn’t wait to take a bite. When I did, I was a little disappointed. The meatballs were pretty great, but the sauce was relatively flavorless. Some different kind of sauce (perhaps some sort of sweet and sour) could have really lit up these meatballs. Finishing everything off was the Asian Marinated Chicken, which didn’t come with any veggies (hooray). Instead, it had rice and mandarin oranges with the chicken. Mandarin oranges may need to be added to my list of foods that make everything taste better. This was so loaded that I needed a fork to eat some of it before eating it like a real taco. In the end, this taco was pretty good, but couldn’t match up to the Seoul Food Special or the Fish n’ Grapes.
Ultimately, Komodo delivered some pretty new and interesting foods. A couple items were slightly flawed for my palette, but some new ideas really made my taste buds happy. I’d definitely like to check them out again to see how some of these work as a burrito, but if you are someone who likes crazy tastes, they will be worth visiting just to get a load of those Fish n’ Grapes. I just hope they figure out a way to make their lines run more smoothly. And come on, if you’re going to call yourself the Komodo Truck, you should be prepared to serve dragon.
Since this was a special event, there won’t be any overall rating on this one, but hopefully I’ve written enough to give you a good idea about this truck.